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Discussion Starter #1
After extensively researching various forums on the topic of motor oils, oil filters, frequency of changes and related topics, I opted to use Royal Purple (5W - 20) and a K & N filter for my first oil change on my "new", but slightly used (less than 9,500 miles) Focus ZXW SE wagon. Initially, I plan to change the oil and the filter every 6,000 miles.

FYI - I live in one part of the State of Michigan and work in another, where I have an apartment during the week. Average drive time between "home" and "work" is about 2.25 hours or about 135 - 145 miles - plus an average of less than 10 miles round trip to work per day.

Since a number of forums discussed and/or recommended that an Oil Analysis be done to establish a base line, I am looking for good recommendations on reliable sources for such an analysis.

I am also looking for suggestions as to the frequency of a good Oil Analysis.

At this point, I am thinking about doing one annually, since I plan to keep this wagon for a long time. Any suggestions or recommendations would also be appreciated on this matter as well.

BTW - for those so interested, I originally purchased a WIX oil filter and then decided to see what a K & N oil filter might look like. I was surprised and pleased with the slightly heavier weight of the K & N filter when compared with the WIX - something which seem to indicate that the K & N was made of better materials. Obviously, I will stick with K & N filters and replace the WIX with a K & N at the next oil change.

Thanks for your suggestions and a special thanks to all those who contributed in one form or another to my "researches".

Bill
 

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I use http://www.blackstone-labs.com. They seem to be one of the more "popular" labs. The basic analysis is $20. I paid an additional $10 for the "Total Base Number" analysis until I settled on my oil change interval. I settled on 5K miles. I get the basic analysis every time I change oil, which is 6-12 mos. depending upon which car it is. The 12 mo. car can sit for a week or so between drives while the other is driven nearly every day.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Born Again Ford Owner:

Thanks for your response, but now I have a question. Why do you feel that it is necessary to do such an analysis with every oil change?

Also the link you gave me led to this:

Meritage Funds is a Denver-based family of communications-oriented private equity funds founded in 1998 with more than $500 million of committed capital under management. We employ an integrated team approach in which all investment professionals participate in particular aspects of each transaction based on their specific area of expertise.

I'll do a Google search to see what I can find.

Thanks again.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #4
BAFO:

Interesting - how a little "." can change everything. Putting a period after "com" leads one to Meritage Funds; its elimination lead me to the correct site.

Of interest to those following this discussion is a comparison of the Oil Analysis done by four labs: Blackstone Labs; ANA Labs; Oil Analyzers; and Predictive Maintenance; two other labs were not given "chart" space: they were Dyson Analysis and Wear Check. The overall consensus was very positive for Blackstone Labs because of the following statement:

. . . But we were surprised to find they were the only lab testing for insolubles, as that is a good indicator of when to change the oil filter. And their results have consistently held up to close scrutiny. On a subjective note, the commentary they add with each analysis is great, and the comparison to the car's own averages and overall averages for the type of car is pretty nice. . . .

But I will continue to do a little more "homework" to see what I can find out and then post the results later.

Thanks - once again.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Whoops! I forgot to post the link to the comparative study:

http://neptune.spacebears.com/cars/stories/labtest.html

In checking things a bit further, I came across this site - Aviation Consumer -

http://www.aviationconsumer.com/ytb/

which gave an annual review of "the best products and services we’ve seen this year". Among those listed for the category of "Best Oil Analysis Lab" was
Blackstone Laboratories.

Although most owners don’t realize it, the trick of making any sense out of engine oil analysis is not so much looking at a sample in the present but knowing how what you’re looking at compares of what went before it.

In other words, the secret of canny oil analysis is historical data for lots of engines and the more you have, the better. That’s why we think Blackstone Laboratories is tops for GA piston oil analysis. Blackstone has had years of experience and a few years back, it purchased the database of Howard Fenton’s Engine Oil Analysis, one of the most experienced aviation labs in the world.

We’ve found Blackstone’s reports to be timely and personalized, just what you want after you’ve spent 20 grand on an engine overhaul. Contact www.blackstone-labs.com/.

Further searches produced a worthwhile and thorough discussion of "What is Oil Analysis" - which can be found here.

http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/whatisoilanalysis.htm

Perhaps, my "homework" is almost complete, but I'll keep looking for a bit more and report back.

Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #6
And then there is the matter of "Oil Analysis Margins of Error" found here:

http://neptune.spacebears.com/cars/stories/margins.html

The first and last paragraph of this extensive and illustrative discussion are worth remembering:

When looking at the fluctuation in the numbers over the course of our oil study, it's natural to ponder the margin of error for the tests. Because even though we suspend disbelief and accept that the testing found exactly 2,930 mg/Kg of calcium, deep down inside we know that no test is perfect. At best it is a very very good approximation.

. . . .

Overall, oil analysis presents a pretty good picture of what's going on in the engine, but it would be erroneous to take it as gospel. Oil analysis works best as an indicator of trends, and to get the most out of it, it's important to sample at regular intervals.

The research continues. . . .

Bill
 

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Part of the reason I analyze each oil change is that I tend to be a little anal about engine maintenance and the other part is that in my case I'm always 5K miles "behind", in a sense, if I get a report saying that for instance my silicon content is a little high as in my wife's Celica. (The filter wasn't that old so I wasn't expecting to need to change it.) This would have gone undetected until my next analysis, whenever that would have been. Two other variables that aren't as predictable as "wear" particles are fuel and anti-freeze presence. Those things have more serious consequences than slightly accelerated wear and should be addressed promptly.
 
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